There are hundreds of mobile apps available for English language students. Photo by Chris Whittle, used with permission.

There are hundreds of mobile apps available for English language students. Photo by Chris Whittle, used with permission.

There are hundreds of mobile apps available for English language students. Photo by Chris Whittle, used with permission.

Mobile devices and apps are changing the way people learn English. Teacher Emma Segev, who won last month’s British Council Teaching English blog award, shares her ideas for learning English on the go. Comment below this post if you have further tips.


Technology and language learning

My online teaching career has set me on a journey of discovery. It has provided me with creative freedom, endless resources and learning materials, and the possibility to teach students from all corners of the globe. I’m a true believer in the importance of technology in the classroom and e-learning as a platform for teaching.

However, more and more students are using mobile devices to connect to the web. Mobile learning (or m-learning) is the ability to learn anywhere and at any time using a portable electronic device. Mobile learning is less structured than e-learning and in my opinion complements the latter perfectly.

Mobile learning and language development

Our world today is obsessed with doing everything quickly, learning included. Self-study is obviously important in language learning. From my experience, as little as one hour a week of self-study can boost a student’s progress immensely. Yet the majority of my students have chosen to study online due to time restrictions, and in their first lesson, they make it quite clear they have no time for homework. So, how do I motivate my busy students to find the time?

As the use of mobile technology is increasing, why not offer students the possibility to study anytime, anyplace and at their own convenience through their mobile devices? I get my students started with small, realistic homework activities. I request that my students spend just five or ten minutes a day on English. I introduce them to some of the amazing apps available and encourage them to learn in a mobile way. And it works!

Five free apps for learning English on the go

There are hundreds of mobile phone apps available and it’s possible to find free options suited to economically minded students. Here are my top five free apps that students can use for extra practice:

British Council apps offer a huge choice for smart phones. You can look at the options on their webpage and download the apps on Google Play, Apple’s App Store or using a QR code. I particularly like ‘Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge’ – it’s a fun way to improve grammar.

Duolingo is a wonderful app that has just won the ‘Best education start-up award’. It’s designed like a game and is pretty addictive. It’s free, contains no adverts and is very effective.

Two min English is free, has no adverts and contains more than two hundred two-minute video lessons on a variety of topics e.g., social English, business English, travel English, common mistakes in English, idioms and phrases.

Game to learn English powowbox is a multi-level game, once downloaded it appears as English tracker. The first three levels are free. You have to spot the mistake – if you get it wrong, you receive a clear explanation. It’s fun and easy to play.

Real English offers a variety of apps at different levels: Business and conversation apps at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The apps are free, but they do contain adverts. Each app contains 20 lessons that focus on specific grammar/vocabulary areas. Each lesson is made up of five parts.

Being creative with mobile devices

Why not encourage your students to be creative and use the technology at their literal fingertips to prepare homework activities? I’ve chosen a few apps and looked at some of their educational possibilities:

Whatsapp is a mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages. Users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages.

Ideas:

  • How about sending your students a short news article or podcast and asking them to send an audio response summarising it in their own words or giving their opinion?
  • Students could send photos with captions to illustrate different tenses. Alternatively they could describe daily habits or routines, or create a set of instructions.
  • Students could create a video or audio of themselves making a short business presentation or reviewing a movie/book or TV show.

Ipadio lets you record up to 60 minutes of high-quality audio. You can then add titles, descriptions, images, and geo-locate your recording before instantly uploading to your ipadio.com account or cross-post to your Twitter, Facebook or blog.

Ideas:

  • Set a research activity, get students to interview a number of people and record and edit their interview.
  • You could record your lesson and send it to students that were absent.
  • Create a revision podcast and send it to your students.
  • Students could create a short story or poem with photos and audio.

Closed Facebook groups can be a great way of communicating with your students. Students can share ideas, opinions and homework projects.

Ideas:

  • Post quizzes and grammar tips.
  • Get students to share book reviews.
  • Brainstorm ideas about different topics.
  • Have a different theme each week and get students to share songs, pictures and quotations connected to the theme.
  • Generally create a place for students to interact with you and with each other outside of the classroom.

To conclude, by supplying our students with easily accessible tools for studying ‘on the go’, we are enabling them to incorporate self-study into their busy lives, accelerating their progress and guaranteeing better results.

Happy teaching!


Read more from our blog awards: How you can use TV series, trailers and films in language class

Comments

Total 40 Comments Add your comment

magdei maqtoush

Posted on February 27th, 2014 Report abuse

ilike it

Name*aye myint than

Posted on February 27th, 2014 Report abuse

Thanks for your kindly teaching.

Name*rania

Posted on February 28th, 2014 Report abuse

its a very great idea

Name*Louise

Posted on March 1st, 2014 Report abuse

This is an invaluable blog.
i have actually discovered the incredible value of using whatsapp in learning another language. It’s fun, easy , mobile, imaginative and gets unbelievable results quickly in learning vocab and spelling.
Your blog is brilliant

Name*shosho

Posted on March 1st, 2014 Report abuse

I’m interested in learning English

Sari

Posted on March 2nd, 2014 Report abuse

I couldn’t agree more. i have implemented this treatment to my students. it worked. They got enthusiastic and. They completed the task. It also helped them to learn in a fun way. It is accesible.

Name*Rakesh

Posted on March 2nd, 2014 Report abuse

A very informative and educative blog. Being an English teacher I am enthuse with the possibilities that mobile learning has for the learners of English. One could also use some of the games on the sites suggested as a lean time engagement of the students. Great sharing!
Rakesh. Ess

Name sawphone

Posted on March 2nd, 2014 Report abuse

I want to learn English

Isaque Lucena

Posted on March 2nd, 2014 Report abuse

Great and useful tips on ‘m-learning’, Emma. Congrats!
I’m sure I’ll be using some of them with High School students.
Thanks for sharing. ( :

Name*Mar

Posted on March 2nd, 2014 Report abuse

Ifound very useful your blog especially two minute English point.
Thanks

The Best Mobile Apps For English Language Learners | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 Report abuse

[...] Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime, anywhere is from The British Council. [...]

Wai Nwe Khaing

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 Report abuse

Can i download this all application for android phone. Please help how can i get them. Thank you so much.

Emma Segev

Posted on March 6th, 2014 Report abuse

Thank you all for your positive feedback and for taking the time to comment.

Wai Nwe Khaing, you can download these apps free from ‘Play Store’on your Android phone.

Emma :-)

Maia janelidze

Posted on March 16th, 2014 Report abuse

Greetings. I’d like yo recieve lessons on my mobile. Can you help me. Thanks.

Name*maqbool

Posted on March 16th, 2014 Report abuse

I want to lern enghlish.i am a indian kerala.i do no talking enghlish

Catherine Simonton

Posted on March 17th, 2014 Report abuse

Great ideas!

Name*krishnadubey

Posted on March 17th, 2014 Report abuse

I want to learn fluent english

The Editor

Posted on March 17th, 2014 Report abuse

@Maia – you can find a list of mobile apps above. Our own are available through http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/apps
We hope you enjoy them!

@Maqbool – you can contact our India offices through http://www.britishcouncil.in/contact-us for details on how they can help. If you’re interested in learning online, please visit our LearnEnglish site: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org

Ramprasad Kujur

Posted on March 17th, 2014 Report abuse

Great ideas. This can be useful to all learners as well as English teachers.

Name*maria Lova

Posted on March 17th, 2014 Report abuse

I hv been in Canada almost one year but my English not getting better, I’m learn but I have bad memories, can you advise me what should I do?tx

The Editor

Posted on March 19th, 2014 Report abuse

@Maria Lova – you can find our online offer for learners of English, along with Canadian contact details (right-hand side), on our Canada website: http://www.britishcouncil.ca/english
There are also several techniques to memorise vocabulary and grammar. If you want to receive detailed advice, please contact our LearnEnglish team, either by joining http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org or https://www.facebook.com/LearnEnglish.BritishCouncil

Name*monther.nassar

Posted on March 26th, 2014 Report abuse

Ok
good idea

sarat chandra

Posted on March 26th, 2014 Report abuse

Yes exactly….when we use technology for learning..it automatically speedup’s the process and find out more number of ways tooo…

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Posted on April 6th, 2014 Report abuse

[...] Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime … [...]

Stéphane Padovani pOwOw.box CEO

Posted on April 20th, 2014 Report abuse

Thanks you very much for your comment about EnglishTracker. We have just released the Iphone and IPad versions, get it on https://itunes.apple.com/app/id821156435 and use the code BCL1 when asked to unlock for free all the levels. This code is available for the first 100 installs.

Learning English outside the school | ABC School of English

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 Report abuse

[...] English on your mobile or your tablet? The British Council has very good ones. As they explained in this article you can improve your English anytime, [...]

sonam shivhare

Posted on April 25th, 2014 Report abuse

thanks for giving such amazing mobile app’s name…and for sharing wonderful ideas… thank u so much..

Eric

Posted on April 26th, 2014 Report abuse

Im living in Viet Nam.
How can i learn English at British Council

The Editor

Posted on April 28th, 2014 Report abuse

Hi Eric,
Please see this page for our offer and contact details in Vietnam: http://www.britishcouncil.vn/en/english
Our local team will be more than happy to help you further.
All the best!

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Posted on May 5th, 2014 Report abuse

[...] Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime … Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like Loading… [...]

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Posted on May 7th, 2014 Report abuse

[...] Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime … [...]

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Posted on May 24th, 2014 Report abuse

[...] Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime … Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like Loading… [...]

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Posted on June 12th, 2014 Report abuse

[...] Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime … [...]

vickyy

Posted on June 17th, 2014 Report abuse

I want to learn english via facebook

The Editor

Posted on June 17th, 2014 Report abuse

Hi Vicky,
This is our Facebook page for learners:
https://www.facebook.com/LearnEnglish.BritishCouncil
Please do join us!

Mohsen

Posted on July 4th, 2014 Report abuse

Whatsapp Application is a good way to learn english.I want to create a group in whatsapp for learning english. Those who want to be in group save my cell phone No. (00989398204542) and send me a message: “Hello English”
Thanks

Yurivog

Posted on July 20th, 2014 Report abuse

I’ve just used duolingo and I didn’t like it. I had to choose to learn English from Portuguese and it uses what is probably google translate. There were several problems with the translation. Many students will learn the wrong collocations for example.

carissa peck (@eslcarissa)

Posted on July 21st, 2014 Report abuse

I think Quizlet is a great app that teachers can customize to help students study and learn on their own time. http://eslcarissa.blogspot.com/2013/11/quizlet-for-at-home-studying.html

simon

Posted on July 21st, 2014 Report abuse

I love learning English